Saturday, February 11, 2012

Nouri is the past and Iraqi women fight for their future

Ali Hussein (Al Mada) observes that the quest to find Iraqis who live happy and comfortable would end at a politician's door. Hussein believes it is fairly obvious Nouri al-Maliki arises each morning and laughs with associates as various people make their whole day out of whether or not Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq will apologize to Nour. Hussein finds the whole thing appalling as Iraqis suffer within Iraq and while this is the image Iraq projects to the world.

Nouri al-Maliki is prime minister as a result of the November 2010's Erbil Agreement. Following the March 2010 elections, the country was pulled into Political Stalemate I by Nouri who refused to honor the results of the 2010 elections. First, he inisted the results were wrong, that the votes had been miscounted. He stomped his feet and demanded a recount and then began insisting there was fraud. A few votes were tossed to his State of Law party post-election to assuage Nouri's wounded pride. The election continued the mood that was taking hold in Iraq -- a mood that threatens Nouri to this day.

In 2009, provincial elections were held and Iraqis did not embrace sectarian divisions. That was the result of the 2009 elections in Iraq's provinces. Nouri misread the results (and in fairness to him and others, one election alone proves nothing). He thought he'd do better than Dawa (his political party) and didn't want to enter into any alliances with existing groups. He misread the mood and thought that people wanted new groupings to vote for. What they wanted was an end to the fighting, they wanted a united Iraq.

As the results of the 2009 elections demonstrated, so did the 2010. And that's why Nouri -- despite all the money he tossed around, all the bribes he made -- found his State of Law slate coming in second to the brand new Iraqiya. The brand new Iraqiya that Nouri had targeted -- over 500 politicians were disqualified from running in the weeks leading up to the elections and they were mainly Iraqiya, disqualified by Nouri's friends on the Justice and Accountability Commission. He'd used the media to declare them terrorists and worse. And yet Iraqiya bested Nouri's State of Law.

It did so because Nouri was preaching more sectarianism, more hatred, more division. Iraqiya's led by a Shi'ite (Ayad Allawi) but it's got Shi'ites and Sunnis and Turkmen and others in it. It's a mixed slate that was a united slate and that's how this newly formed grouping managed to win.

Nouri is right, they are a threat to him. They are a threat because ideas are always more powerful than politicians. Politicians harness ideas, toy with ideas, betray ideas, but they never trump ideas.

And Iraqiya represents an idea. An Iraq where people are Iraqis and they make a society together.

Nouri's fear of this idea is rooted in the reality that everything he stads for is the past and that his hold on the country slips away. All he has is authoritarianism and barbaric behavior to offer because he's embraced and bathed in the hate of his years of exile. That's not what Iraqis need and it's not what they want.

Nouri's only currency is hate so he attacks others and tries to stir up hatred, always hoping he can rip Iraq apart because only when the country feels misery is a Nouri needed. Good times rule out a Nouri. Only when fear and misery rule a land does a thug like Nouri get to 'lead.'

Which means the most important story out of Iraq today may have been AP's afternoon report that, in the face of Nouri's non-stop targeting of Iraqiya, the Union of Patriotic Figures is formed -- Kurds, Shi'ites and Sunnis who plan to be a check and an opposition.

As if to demonstrate how strongly he is gripped by both hatred and the past, Nouri declared today that Iraqiya is following the orders of "other countries." Al Mada reports he made this charge -- one that he'd sue over if it were aimed at him -- while 'celebrating' Dawa in his hometown of Touirij. Dar Addustour notes a planned meeting at Jalal Talabani's residence on Monday -- Talabani is President of Iraq and this would be his Baghdad residence in which issues regarding the National Conference will be addressed -- between Talabani and Nouri and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.

Al Mada notes a group of women demonstrated in Iraq on Baghdad's Mutanabi Street -- a large number of women from the picture -- to salute Iraq women and the pioneering Iraqi women of the 20th century feminist movement. The women noted the widespread discrimination against women (illegal under the country's Constitution). Dr. Buthaina Sharif made remarks about how the rights of women are a cause for all men and women to share. Dr. Sharif saluted Paulina Hassoun who, in 1923, edited Iraq's first feminist magazine Layla ("On the way to the revival of the Iraqi woman"). She spoke to Iraq's long history of social progress in the 20th century and decried the violence aimed at so many women today. (The UN estimates that one out of five Iraqi women is a victim of domestic violence.) Those demonstrating had passed a list of recommendations.

1) The Constitution must be followed.
2) The government needs to establish a fund for women -- women who are widows and women whose husbands have left them.
3) Publis assistance for the education of girls to prevent them from being forced to drop out.
4) Subsidies for young families which would encourage marriage and building families.
5) Better housing for women and priority on housing lists.
6) Training sessions should be opened to women and job creation should keep their qualifications in mind.
7) Double the amount guaranteed by the ration card.
8) Efforts to discredit women by sullying their names with false rumors should result in prosecution in court.
9) Freedom and unity is for all and that includes women.
10) Restore normal life by providing potable water (safe to drink) and electricity.
11) create a Higher National Committee of women and men from different backgrounds and ages

Nora Khaled Mahmoud and Mahmoud Raouf file a follow up piece for Al Mada
on the demonstration noting thatit included intellectuals and activists and could said to have been prompted by the Minster for Women's recent remarks that men and women were not equal and her insistance upon dictating how women dress. The note Iraqi women spoke of women's history being a continuum of two experiences: Injustice and triumph. Women face injustice and they triumph over it. They declared that democracy is traveling around the world and that Iraq must be a good model for it. They noted that, throughout the women's movement in Iraq, women and men have taken part in the struggle for equality and that, as early as the 20s and 30s, Iraqi clerics joined in the demands for equality for all. Women, they insisted, must not lose their freedom and that this is even more clear when they hear the Minister for Women publicly declaring she does not believe in equality. While that's her opinion, the women state, that's not the opinion of alll women and it's not the opinion of the Constitution. Journalist and feminist Nermin Mufti declared that civil liberties and personal freedoms are declining in Iraq and that the Minister for Women should represent the interests of Iraqi women and seek to claim the rights guaranteed to women, not rob them of their rights little by little.

We'll close with this by international law expert and professor of law Francis A. Boyle:

February 8, 2012

The Honorable Patrick Quinn

Governor, State of Illinois

James R. Thompson Center

100 W. Randolph St., Ste. 16-100

Chicago, IL 60601-3220

Fax: 312-814-6183

Dear Governor Quinn:

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you! Unfortunately for me, on Friday, March 2, 2012 the City of Champaign will be publicly desecrating Saint Patrick, your Patron Saint and the Patron Saint of our Beloved Ireland. On that day, the Champaign Bar and Liquor Industry will launch their annual town-wide Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day Bar Crawls. In previous years this event knowingly and deliberately produced, promoted, and instigated at least one death, numerous maimings, many rapes and sexual assaults, widespread physical assaults and batteries, large scale drunken-driving, destruction of public and private property, and multiple disturbances of public order—all perpetrated by drunken young adults and underage minor drinkers who had been illegally served and serviced by the Champaign Bar and Liquor Industry with the full knowledge and approval of the Champaign City Council and Mayor. The good people of your Champaign County will be terrorized and intimidated by several thousands of drunken young adults and illegal underage minor drinkers for the entire weekend.

Because of the enormous sums of money generated by the Champaign Bar and Liquor Industry, and despite my best efforts, all the local public officials have adamantly failed and refused to terminate this orgiastic defilement of Saint Patrick, but rather have tolerated, condoned, and licensed it for well over a dozen years. Therefore I hereby request that you exercise the emergency powers granted to the Governor by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act, 20 Ill. Comp. Stat. 3305 (West 2007), 3305/4 (“Disaster” includes “riot”) to suspend every bar and liquor license within the city limits of Champaign for March 2, 2012. Under Section 3305/7(9) the Governor has the power “To suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of alcoholic beverages….”

We must not let these mercenary Champaign bar and liquor store owners murder and maim and rape yet another young person in the prime of his or her life. Their next victim could be your daughter or your son, your brother or your sister, your mother or your father. These Merchants of Death and Destruction must be stopped!

Thank you for your kind attention to this matter. It has been most appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours very truly,

Francis A. Boyle

Enclosure: United Ireland, Professor of Law
Human Rights, and International Law

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